Friday, March 17, 2006

2006 Ex-Trot Guide: Not. Funny. Luke.

Recently, Luke Fomiatti has gotten himself into a spot of bother over a botched attempt at 'humour': Uni newspaper calls Jews 'bloodsuckers'.


THE University of Western Sydney has been enveloped in a race row over a student newspaper article which refers to Jewish people as "bloodsuckers".

An outraged Jewish community has demanded an apology for the "anti-semitic" comments published by student and UWS board member Luke Fomiatti.

Vice Chancellor Janice Reid has been forced to write to almost 40,000 students and staff stating the article - in the university newspaper The Western Onion - was unacceptable.

Intended as a send-up of the Muslim cartoon issue, the front page spread includes anti-Jewish drawings and refers to "a vampire with a Star of David tattoo drinking the blood of a young boy labelled Europe"...

Mr Fomiatti said yesterday he had received hate mail and been threatened with physical harm, which had been referred to police.

"I wanted to make a point in a strong way... but some students haven't understood it," he said. "I am using the experience of the Nazi Party's anti-semitism to condemn racism and bigotry.

"There will be an explanation in the next edition and I will say sorry to have offended people."

Mr Fomiatti received a letter from the university administration seeking an explanation for the article and hinting he could face misconduct proceedings.

In her letter Professor Reid said the article would "upset many people" and was not funny.
A fifth-year Arts/Law student at the University of Western Sydney, Fomiatti was expelled from Resistance in late August 2004. According to one account, this was because of Fomiatti's inability to 'toe the party line'... while simultaneously maintaining his support for a leftist student grouping called "NBL Rebel". Although details are murky, it appears that Luke intended "NBL Rebel" to be a broader socialist front than the leadership of the Resistance/DSP desired; worse yet, it would comprise elements hostile to Leninism. But what was "NBL Rebel" anyway?

As the name suggests, "NBL Rebel" was purported by Fomiatti's critics to be a break-away faction from the broader student National Broad Left:
...a political grouping within the National Union of Students of Australia from 1999 to 2005... [NBL] was a loose conglomeration of various feminist, environmentalist, 'autonomist' [Marxist], Trotskyist and 'independent' left activists.
(Incidentally, I was temporarily banned from the national_broadleft list in December 2000 by another Marxist law student named Nicholas Salzburg.) Reports of the life of "NBL Rebel" appear to have been exaggerated, however, and instead it seems to have simply mutated over the course of the following year into the Grassroots ('Swampy') Left. What's the Grassroots Left? According to Wikipedia, the Grassroots Left 'sat' as part of the NBL up until the 2004 NUS National Conference, while the "final breakdown" of the NBL took place shortly thereafter. In essence, it appears that the NBL split into three smaller groupings: the first consisting of members of Socialist Alternative; the second members of Solidarity and the Socialist Action Group; and the third consisting of members of the non-aligned, anti-authoritarian left. It's this third group from which the Grassroots Left is drawn.

...more commentary on the Australian student movement to follow...